Land Treaty handout

 Land into Trust Documents - Tribal Lands
Why is land so important to Indian tribes? Land is of great spiritual and cultural significance
to Indian tribes, and many Indian communities are still reliant upon the land for subsistence
through hunting, fishing, gathering or agriculture. Moreover, Indian lands are critical for the
exercise of tribal self-governance and self-determination.
How much land do the tribes hold? Indian tribes hold over 50 million acres of land,
approximately 2% of the United States. Most of these lands are in very arid and remote regions.
The largest reservation is the Navajo Nation, which is a large as West Virginia. Some
reservations are as small as a few acres, and some tribes hold no land at all.
What are tribal trust lands? The title to tribal lands is held by the federal government in a trust
status for the benefit of current and future generations of tribal members. Most often this land is
within the boundaries of a reservation. Trust status means that the land falls under tribal
government authority and is generally not subject to state laws. Trust status also creates
limitations on the use of the land and requires federal approval for most actions.
Can the tribes acquire more land in trust? The federal government and the tribes have the
ability to acquire additional land in trust. Most often this land is purchased by the tribe or
acquired from federal surplus lands. Trust status can be conferred only by the Secretary of
Interior or the U.S. Congress by statute. The ability of the Department of Interior to take land
into trust was created in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act to begin to compensate for unjust
takings of tribal lands.
Why should tribes be allowed to acquire more land? Between the years of 1887 and 1934, the
U.S. Government took over 90 million acres, nearly 2/3 of reservation lands, from the tribes
without compensation and gave it to settlers
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